There are things I can’t change. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to or have not tried. They are just there, sitting in the center of my life like a puzzle with missing pieces, a puzzle I long to complete but can not.

Where are those pieces?  I search everywhere.

Others try to help:

“You can find them in exercise,” I’m told. “Just be in your body more.”

 I swam three days a week for fifty years.

“Maybe if you changed your diet,” another suggests. “The fuel in your body makes all the difference.”

I’ve become an expert on diet but my food remains undigested.

My sister tells me that the answers live in scripture and the beliefs of the church.

I devoted myself as a child, but left when I recognized my essence in those who’d been burned.

I walk. I look. I seek. I meet others who stand in judgment because their puzzle pieces slipped together quickly and easily a long time ago.

I visit therapists, healers and shaman who tell me the pieces are only found inside myself.

I stay alone, meditate, fast, ask, demand, weep and pray. I come to know myself but the pieces are not found.

Maybe the pieces are found in acceptance, acceptance that this lifetime I’ve been given a puzzle I can not complete.

Or perhaps those empty places are not missing after all.

What if the emptiness ‘is’ the gift, a sweet on-going torment of desire designed to open consciousness, like the allowing of space that permits a piece of music to breathe.

The wound is endless and forever, the price of being human. The Dalai Lama tells us we must stay in the world, not go away from it, so I continually pull myself up and out of longing, remembering the grace I’ve come to share.  

The Hospital Room

White coats and surgical coverings, sharp shining silver tools designed to invade, ether masks filled with gagging head splitting recovery. Alone, alone, alone, in dimly lit rooms where I wake full of pain, and half conscious awareness. Wheeled to other sterile rooms with metal beds lined up in rows. Jokes from a waitress who visits to explain that my mother is too busy to come. Are those pork chops you’re having for dinner, she asks, looking at the tube of liquid dripping into my arm. I smile feeling some responsibility to both appreciate and amuse her.

Later my mother comes with new pajamas, little rose buds living in creamy soft flannel. She smells like fresh air. The outside world clings to her clothes, the scent of the day lingers in her midnight hair. I want to eat her up, whole. I want to take her inside me to satisfy an unspeakable appetite. She tells me about the restaurant while painting her lips in fire engine red. I want to grab those lips, ask her to swallow me. I want to live within her body. Take me home, I want to scream. Take me to another place, eat me alive, but don’t leave me here.

Visiting hours are short, her schedule is full. I am one of the lucky 5. I am sick, so I get to see her. I have her undivided attention for about half an hour. New pajamas and the memory of sunlight playing on her ear-rings stay with me long after she closes the door. Now it’s me and nothingness. Tomorrow the janitor will mop my room. I like him. He comes everyday. The floors are not dirty. I don’t know why he comes. He has bags tied balloon-like over his shoes, as he mops clean over clean.

written 3-11-08